So, I have this beautiful student at Hot 8 Yoga in Santa Monica, that's created a group on facebook about meditation. It's inviting us to engage in one hundred days of meditation. We are at day 39.
It's a difficult task to commit to, but once you do, you have many others that, even if you don't know them, you are secretly accountable to and for to hold you to your meditation practice. And, it's also amazing that, once you put it on your schedule of 'to do's', you WILL do.
Meditation, for me, was always difficult.
I know, I'm a yoga teacher AND superhero so it should be easy for me to sit in a cross legged position for hours with no sound, clear my mind and raise the frequency of my energy to a dog's hearing.
But alas, I always remember where I came from...
a NY girl (with Superhero strength she got from her dad) and a NY state of mind.
I love NY but have lived in LA longer in my lifetime than NY. NY always reminded me of a geographical me. The place is frenetic with tons of energy - every which way and rarely sleeps.
I'm still that way, but a little more balanced. If it wasn't for yoga, my prana, life force or energy, would be seeping out of every hole and pore in my body. With yoga, now I can harness that energy and use it when I want. It's like having an energy savings account.
But I'm still out of my mind...in the cutest way possible.
Remember that kid at your last family function that was running around the room like a lunatic knocking into your legs and flailing their arms all over the place only to pass out on the floor moments later after eating too much sugar? You find her an hour later...her little dress blanketed over her head, black paten leather shoes knocked together and half off, arms and legs are sprawled out in an exhausted wonder for adults to laugh at and ooh and ahh at the cuteness of the whole thing? FINALLY, she calmed down!!
That's me, at 36. I really have so much energy that sometimes, I don't know what to do with all of it. So, when I did my first yoga teacher training almost a decade ago, and was informed that meditation would be part of my daily, 'at home' practice, I almost threw up in my mouth.
To be still AND conscious, no freekin' way!! Could I get away with it if I didn't do it?
But, it happens and it happened.
In fact, meditation creates so much more energy in a controlled IV drip sort of way that it's impossible not to want to hit the meditation cushion or mat and feel the bliss of dumping out the excess mind, listening to the quiet and finding the solutions to all life's problems and questions in one fell swoop. For real.
I've done Yoga Nidra, guided meditation, silence and still point focus. I've done specific yogic traditions of meditation Buddhist and non linear, just sit and 'be' meditation.
And, nothing is more fascinating then making up a meditation right where you are, in the middle of everything busy and hectic in the day and finding the yoga and meditation in it.
Case in point,
the other day, I was walking to teach class. I always have my iPod mini playing just the right songs to keep my energy up to teach and stay focussed. Today, my iPod died in mid stride.
It's going to be quiet, I thought. I am going to feel lonely, I thought. There is nothing like the companion of distraction to get you through.
Instead of being annoyed at the circumstances, I decided to take in this universal decision to deprive me of music and get me out of my regular routine.
Use each step as a moment to take in the auditory stimulus and engage in its wholeness.
A child laughing. The crosswalk telling me to walk. A couple discussing plans for the weekend. A car driving by and playing Nicki Minaj, a runner stops in mid stride to answer his iPhone. He answers, 'Wei." I know this to mean, talk or talk to me in Chinese and I'm mentally propelled to when I lived in Shanghai. A nice and distant memory. I smile. I remember the foreign sounds of China and then I move on...
I hear a car coming up a drive way, the gate closing behind the car. I hear the bouganvilla rustle in a short breeze. The sound of a bike locks in it's position. A rustle of lazy beach feet on concrete.
Each moment was 'heard' till the next.
Each moment was 'felt' to the next.
Each moment was present, until the next.
This morning, one of my favorite clients was stressed out and told me she didn't want to move quite yet, but sit in meditation for a while so she could get into the space of 'doing' yoga.
She doesn't like to sit still and finds it difficult to close her eyes without 'falling asleep.'
It's hard to disengage the multi-task and engage in the uni-task of just
I told her to just sit as comfortably as possible, keep her eyes open and watch her dog. We work in the peaceful courtyard of her house in Beverly Hills so I told her to watch Ellie as she sits in the sun, her eyes squinting then releasing, her front paws tucking under her chin and tongue pressing through her teeth then retracting.
Watch Ellie as she gets up and slowly saunters to my mat.
She sniffs my nose and wanders to my bag.
She climbs the handles and snoops inside.
She retreats and walks over to my client, sits, watching patiently as if waiting for instructions.
The postman comes and Ellie runs to the gate and barks.
The postman leaves and she hops several hops to a torn rope at the corner of the courtyard and gnaws at it. She comes back and licks my clients toes.
Then, Ellie calms down and sits beside her, lying down again, squinting in the sun, her front paws tucking under her chin and tongue pressing through her teeth then retracting.
She reaches for my client's sock and brings it under her chin.
She stays...adorable and peaceful in the sun with a little sock under her chin.
Each moment, slow and thoughtful. Each moment brought that sweet dog to the next. Each moment was a reminder to live in just that.
I'm reminded of my eating disorder.
It was difficult to be an overweight overachiever as a youth but even more difficult to be an adult in the fitness, health and mindfulness industry and know that it never goes away.
You always have to keep the disease in check and as I do, I think of my breath.
I fill up my belly, expand my side ribs and back body with breath and hold.
How does it feel to be full? Full of breath and life and stillness. To be grounded in the fullness of life - the nurturing of the spirit and the mind is a blessing.
I let go of the breath slowly and controlled. I hold.
To feel empty, with nothing but the beat of my heart and pulse of blood moving throughout is a blessing.
I savor the space between feeling full of life and letting go. The union of them both as it fuels and expends.
And it is a blessing everyday.
To treat the body with such care instills the mindfulness necessary to treat everything else with just as much care.
You don't have to sit still on a cushion to find your meditation.
I watch surfers at sunrise simply sit on their boards, riding the pulse of the ocean before a wave propels them to stand.
I watch my sister bake cakes and cookies and extravagant deserts and she is quiet and thoughtful, measuring each ingredient then blending in sweet repose.
I watch my mother with her cup of tea in the afternoon. The ritual of filling the kettle, opening the tin for her green tea bag, finding the cup amongst other cups for the one cup she uses every time and sit to enjoy, not walk around the house to busy herself, but to enjoy and sip and watch Oprah.
I watch trained athletes in the playoffs, with strong muscles engaged everywhere dancing from one side of the court to the other, with there mates, pause and toss the ball into the net, the crowd quiet for a moment until they roar in unison when the ball makes it through the net.
Meditation is mindfulness. You can find it anywhere you are present with the breath, what or who you are with and what you are doing.
You can find it sitting still and you can find it moving around.
You can find it if you BE it.
When you ARE it, everything shows up, the good and the bad. What you need comes up and what you don't falls away.
Try it, you'll like it. Money back guarantee.